I have, for most of my life, been a morning person. Happily alert with first light and filled with tremendous energy – busy planning what to achieve during the day before my feet hit the bedroom floor. Energy levels waning as the day moves towards night – grateful to slow down and curl up in a chair with some knitting and TV, or a book at day’s end.
My husband was a bit of night owl. He also possessed tremendous will and strength to power past his body’s signals for rest. All-nighters were something he could do with apparent ease; something I paid dearly for, even days later.
For several years, JD maintained 2 jobs, working day and night. During this time he snatched sleep an hour here and there, and tried to pay off his sleep debt on days off. It was an unhappy period but nothing I said made any difference. He was a man with a mission and this is what he thought he had to do to make things better.
Even when he was down to only 1 job, he continued to cheat himself of sleep as he powered through assignments in his quest for an MBA. I, on the other hand, reached that point in every late night where I couldn’t give a damn about the assignment anymore – whatever was done was good enough to submit – my MBA brain shut off and all I cared about was the bed I swore I could hear beseeching me from up the stairs.
After the diagnosis, we talked about whether the repeated and long-term stressing of his body in this way had suppressed his immune system, allowing that first cancerous cell to take root and flourish. We couldn’t come up with another valid reason for such a healthy, never-smoker to get lung cancer.
When JD was alive, I tried to accommodate his sleep patterns, and stayed up much later than my body would have liked. This made my mornings groggy and unpleasant, and I needed an alarm clock (with snooze function!) to wake me on work days.
Since I have been widowed, I no longer even need a clock in the bedroom. I go to sleep when I want and rise refreshed, usually in advance of when I need to. I have yet to oversleep, and occasionally find myself, as I did this morning, awake and ready to go hours ahead of “schedule”.
I love my early mornings again, but not the reason for the change.